Magic Music Story

The Full Story (or at least a little of it)

In 2014, Will Luckey, George Cahill, Chris Daniels, Tim Goodman, Tommy Major and Jimmy Haslip came together to make the first studio album for a band that was never a national household name in 1970. People still remember this first Colorado ‘jam band’ playing the 2nd and 3rd Telluride Bluegrass Festivals. They played shows in LA, New York, Nashville and all over the States with the likes of Cat Stevens, The Youngbloods, The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Steve Martin and more. Bad record deals from major and independent labels came and went but only their reunions at their old manager Greg Sparr’s mountain house and a host of live radio show and two-track studio recordings kept the story alive.

Magic Music 2014

MM at CU

Magic Music busking for the students between classes

MM March 20 71

Magic Music Rehearsal

Like many good stories it starts with a girl. In 1969, Lynn “Flatbush” Poyer from Boulder, Colorado fell in love with a wild dark-haired beauty named Tammy and followed her to Middletown, New York. There he met Tammy’s best friend George “Tode” Cahill, a high school trumpet player and musician. These three headed for Boulder where Tode and Flatbush eventually teamed up with Will Luckey to create the nucleus of the band. Magic Music’s sound coalesced when they all lived in Eldorado Canyon in two school buses and a doughnut truck. The two acoustic guitars and Tode’s elf-like flute playing took them away from surviving as part-time farm hands tossing bails of hay – to the campus of CU in Boulder where they could make a better living busking for the students between classes.

The Magic Music family and dogs in Pagosa on the farm 1974.

The Magic Music family and dogs in Pagosa on the farm 1974.

George Cahill aka “Mr. Tode”

George Cahill aka “Mr. Tode”

This was a band of nicknames, mostly coming from Will Luckey. It was Will that gave George Cahill his “Mr. Tode” title. Cahill, was and is the pied piper of the band. His distinctive flute, harp and vocals, and the fact that he didn’t have to tune a guitar between songs, led Tode to his other role as the storyteller in the band. It was Tode who kept the old farm trucks running and after the band broke up he took jobs driving for Trailways, working in car dealerships and driving charter buses. Cahill moved to Birmingham, Alabama to devote his energy to raising his two kids. Tode played on weekends and at Magic Music reunions and when his kids both got out of high school Cahill went out and found some good southern musicians to play with and test his old skills. He said, “It was as if I’d never left the stage.” Tode’s specialty became the “Mississippi saxophone” – playing blues harp in several bands until he landed a gig with Alabama legend Mose Stovall and the Pharcyde Band. For three years Tode was the only ‘blue-eyed’ soul brother in the band touring the ‘chitlin’ circuit’ along the southern coast. Tode continues playing with good friends doing clubs around the Gulf Coast and his kids are now in there 30’s and doing great. According to Tode, “there is life after children, it’s my mantra.”

Luckey hailed from Martha’s Vineyard Ma.

Luckey hailed from Martha’s Vineyard Ma.

Luckey hailed from Martha’s Vineyard Ma. He was sent to a boarding school in Colorado Springs for his senior year and it was this 1969 exodus to Colorado that aligned the planets for a chance meeting with Chris “Spoons” Daniels at Denver University’s anti-war rally called Woodstock West. They musically bonded but Luckey had to return to The Vineyard for the summer. He strongly encouraged Chris to come east and play music. It was that summer on the Vineyard, that childhood friends, Tim, Goodman, Bill Makepeace and Will Luckey pieced together a band Called “Lefty’s Bench”. Chris finally made it to the island and quickly became part of this merry troop of renegades whose friendships have never faded. As the cold New England winter hit the island, Luckey returned to Colorado and that led to his joining forces with George Cahill and Lynn Poyer to begin the journey of Magic Music. Will was and is the cornerstone of Magic Music and it was his and Lynn’s iconic songs along with the group’s vocals that most people remembered. In the years following Magic Music he played in a couple of rock bands, one of which garnered the attention of Maurice White and Don Myrick from Earth, Wind & Fire. A project was funded for Earth, Wind & Fire’s label, ARC records, but it did not come to fruition. Luckey returned to the East Coast in 1980 where he met future Magic Music percussionist/drummer Tom Major and pianist Wes Nagy. Together they formed “Luckey Strike” and backed Alex Taylor for 5 years as well as playing out on their own with Luckey’s original tunes. Luckey attended and graduated with a Bachelor of Music from Berklee College of Music in Boston. He entered into a solo career of production, teaching and songwriting.

Chris and Will meet Denver 1970 copy

Chris and Will at Woodstock West

Spoons & Tim Sam Nashville 2012

Sam Bush, Spoons and Tim Nashville 2012

Chris “Spoons” Daniels, was a refugee from an East Coast boarding school when he met Will in Colorado. That chance meeting in Denver with Luckey was a turning point for him. After the summer of music in 1970 on the Vineyard, Will left the Vineyard for Colorado and Daniels turned to playing shows on the East Coast including a short stint with David Johansen in New York (before The New York Dolls). Daniels made his way to Colorado where he first joined Rosewood Canyon and then Magic Music. MM toured until 1976 including shows in Telluride where they met up with and shared the bill with Sam Bush and New Grass Revival. After Magic Music broke up Chris and his son Cedar headed to college after which he began a long career that would include albums with New Grass Revival, Bo Diddley, Al Kooper, David Bromberg, Russell Smith (Amazing Rhythm Aces) to name only a few.

Spoons formed Chris Daniels & The Kings in 1984 and for the past 30 years he’s produced 15 albums for the band for Rounder Records, Virgin/France, BMG/Germany and Buffalo Records in Japan. In 2012 he received a co-Grammy nomination for his work on a children’s album with Al Jarreau and in 2013 he was inducted into the Colorado Music Hall of Fame with Judy Collins. Tim and Will came out to play with Spoons at the celebration.

TG at the Board

Tim Goodman

TG in fine form 1970s copy

Tim Goodman back in the day….

Tim Goodman, was the musical son of an Ohio family who considered Martha’s Vineyard home. Will’s boyhood music buddy from Lefty’s Bench the two were entwined in the art of finger picking guitars at a rapid pace. They were sent off together to the same boarding school and it was Will’s entrance into Magic Music that brought Tim to Colorado. After his years in Boulder with his friends in the Magic Music crew and other celebrated Colorado bands Goodman landed a solo deal with Columbia Records. He headed for California and his own dreams. Tim toured and played for some of the most respected names in music including associations with the Doobie Brothers, Neil Young, Emmylou Harris, and with the iconic Johnny Cash. He got to make some great records as a session player, and later founded the million-selling country rock group Southern Pacific on Warner Brothers records with 4 singles in the Top 10 on the Country charts. Tim’s years as a session player in LA and his love for the music he’d shared with his friends perfectly prepared him to assume the mantle as Magic Music album’s producer and fellow-member in the band. Goodman’s guided the project from the basic tracks cut by Spoons throughout the past year bringing in the likes of Jimmy Haslip, Tommy Major, Sam Bush, Billy Payne, Scarlett Rivera and more to add their magic to the brew.

Jimmy MM LA

Jimmy Haslip

Jimmy Haslip got a Hoffner ‘Beatle Bass’ in 1967 from his dad. As a young musician he would go into New York and hang out around 48th Street where Sam Ash, Manny’s, Alex Musical Instruments and Rudy’s Music, all had the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Chris Squire, Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Bob Dylan, Felix Pappalardi, Leslie West and other greats stopping by to check out all the new guitars and basses. It was those moments that brought him into the world of music – focusing on becoming a virtuosic bass player that that would see him eventually earn 21 Grammy nominations, Two Grammy wins an Edison Award nomination and Jazz Angel Award as one of the world’s most renowned bass players with Yellowjackets, Jeff Lorber Fusion, Bruce Hornsby, Dave Mason, Gino Vannelli, Tommy Bolin, Roy Ayers, Rod Stewart, Crosby, Stills and Nash, Allan Holdsworth, Chaka Khan, Bobby McFerrin, Al Jarreau, Donald Fagen, Anita Baker, and more. It was Tim’s friendship with Jimmy that brought him to the Magic Music project.

Tommy LA MM 2014

Tommy Major

Tommy Major, son of the jazz drummer Bill Major, and a Berklee College Alumni, came to the Magic Music project through his work with Goodman and Luckey on the Vineyard. Major, an in-demand East Coast drummer and percussionist has a long career of journeyman credits that include Bo Diddley, Carly Simon, Chuck Berry, Mick Taylor, Southside Johnny and Blood Sweat and Tears. He is the founding member and leader of the critically acclaimed “Entrain,” a percussion-driven World/ Pop ensemble originally from the Vineyard. Co writing and producing all of Entrain’s 8 Cd’s on Dolphin Safe Records. The band has been working regularly for 20 years.

Magicians: Magic Music’s early incarnations included founding member Lynn “Flatbush” Poyer, guitarist and songwriter – who was the first magician and William “Das” Makepeace, the bass player and boyhood friend of Tim and Will who was part of the Magic Music crew for years dating back to his days in Lefty’s bench. Also on bass for two and a half years was Rob Galloway who went on to Navarro when they backed Carol King and later with Leftover Salmon. On tabla, vocal and percussion Kevin “CW” Milburn was Magic Music’s only drummer until Tommy Major joined the band. Magic Music’s other mainstay of the early years was Pam “Petunia” Nation on cello. The band’s lumni include Charlie “Fritz” Finnerty on harp, Jeff Schroder on bass, Francesca “Checka” Draper on vocal, keys and arrangements. MM’s first manager was Chris “Cemoto” Doyle who appears on this album playing bagpipes. Cemoto handed the rains to Greg “Sloth” Sparr who guided the band in subsequent years. It was Sloth who kept the reunions going. As Tode said, “I think we hardly appreciated their efforts. But Sloth kept us going with those roadside breakfasts of eggs and potatoes cooked on a Coleman stove in the old “Wonderbus.”

The Bus in front of Bishops copy

Magic Music The Bus in front of Bishops

landing3This is only a small part of the story. Magic Music’s reputation grew from their early panhandling days on the CU Boulder campus to shows for Barry Fey and Chuck Morris and trips to New York, LA and Nashville – all chasing the elusive dream of getting into the studio and recording their first album. In 1972, after a particularly frustrating gauntlet of hopes being dashed, Luckey and Cahill parted ways with Poyer and brought Daniels into the band. For the next four and a half years the band toured and performed all across the country. As the music business of the mid-seventies turned to the divergent sounds of disco and the Ramones, Luckey, Cahill and Daniels decided to call it quits on Magic Music in August 1976.

That wasn’t the end of the story. Will, Tim, Spoons and Tode stayed in touch. They followed each other’s careers, came to each other’s gigs, sat in with each other’s bands and always talked about Magic Music. Sparr’s memorable reunions with the whole Magic Music crew including Flatbush (who’s ill health made it impossible for him to play after 2010…he died in 2011.) When Daniels was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2010 there was a point that a Magic Music album looked doubtful. But thanks to a bone marrow transplant from his sister, “Spoons” was given a reprieve and a chance to celebrate! In the summer of 2011, Will, Tim, Tode, Spoons and Das all came together to play at Fritz’s birthday and thus began this 44 year dream album. If there ever was a labor of love, this music is it. Under the early guidance of Chris Daniels and the expertise of producer Tim Goodman, Magic Music is here. With thanks to all the school busses, friends, family, pets and landlords that put up with us over the years, we hope this will repay a little of the debt we owe to so many.

Magic Music Telluride Bluegrass 1976 copy

Thanks and big hugs to all!

Magic Music